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Junior Year Writing Course Substitution Policy

Most students satisfy the junior-year writing requirement in their major departments at UMass Amherst. In exceptional circumstances, students can request, in advance, that non-UMass courses fulfill the Junior-Year Writing requirement. For example, students may need to pursue this path when completing degrees remotely or when studying abroad. To be eligible for this requirement, the proposed course must

  1. Be an upper-level course (equivalent to the 300-level at UMass Amherst).
  2. Require discipline-specific writing relevant to the student’s major.
  3. Meet university-wide requirements for Junior Year Writing.

Courses that do not meet these requirements will not be approved as substituting for JYW courses. The full text of the course substitution policy is available here.

To request that a non-UMass course fulfill the JYW requirement at UMass Amherst:

  1. Students must submit the following to the Undergraduate Program Director, Chief Undergraduate Advisor, or Department Chair in his/her/their major:
    • rationale for why it is necessary to take a non-UMass course to fulfill the JYW requirement,  
    • syllabus for the proposed JYW course substitution and other relevant documents as needed, and
    • an explanation of how the course meets the university-wide JYW requirements.
  2. The following would not be approved as JYW course substitutions:
    • lower-level (equivalent to our university’s 100- or 200-level) undergraduate courses;
    • upper-level courses that only assign writing but do not teach writing and thus do not meet university-wide requirements;
    • upper-level courses that teach writing but not writing relevant to the student’s major.
  3. If supporting the request, the UPD/CUA or Chair should then indicate his/her/their approval to and forward the student’s request to one of the Associate Directors for the Junior Year Writing Program. The request will be quickly reviewed by the Junior Year Writing Variance Committee (a subcommittee of the University Writing Committee).
  4. The JYW Variance Committee will notify UPD/CUA or Chair (and cc-the Registrar) with the decision.
  5. The UPD/CUA or Chair should then notify the appropriate Academic Dean who will then notify the Registrar, attaching the JYW Variance Committee’s approval letter as well as a Registrar Prior Approval Form or the Senior Year in Absentia Form (whichever is appropriate) and forward to the Registrar’s office.

Note: This policy addresses requests to use non-UMass courses to satisfy the JYW course requirement. Students interested in taking a JYW course at UMass that’s outside of their major should (1) make sure that the proposed course is designated as a junior-year writing course and (2) request approval from their UPD/CUA.

The UPD/CUA of the student’s primary major may approve proposals to accept JYW courses offered by a different major at UMass; the University Writing Committee does not need to review these types of course substitutions if the course has already been approved as a junior-year writing course. Because junior-year writing courses are often restricted to particular majors, students may need to request instructor permission to enroll in junior-year writing courses outside of their own major.